On Pause Again – and More Books!

Sadly, I didn’t just bring back good memories and new friendships from Bloody Scotland, but also Covid. I started feeling a bit fluey on Tuesday/Wednesday, but thought I had caught a cold from my younger son. However, it appears that his cold is independent, and on Friday I tested positive, after several people who had attended Bloody Scotland had already announced they had fallen ill. It is optimistic to think that we can go back to a normal life in closed venues – it is, in fact, a lottery, and although I wear masks on public transport, I have to admit I did not wear one in the venues and probably not everyone tested for Covid before they attended the event.

So I just had quite a horrible weekend, and am not up to anything more intellectual than showing you pictures of the books I have acquired this month.

First of all, thank you to Stela Brinzeanu and her publisher Legend Press for the beautiful little parcel that arrived with the proper edition of the book Set in Stone (I previously read the ARC), a tote bag and a small jar of honey from Moldova.

I splashed out on quite a few books, although only two at Bloody Scotland (I did not have much room in my luggage and also my broken arm struggled with the tiny suitcase I did have).

The two I bought in Stirling were Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger and The Killing Kind by Jane Casey, after attending their panel. I read them both half in Stirling and half on the train journey home, they were proper page-turners!

After the death of Javier Marias, I felt I wanted to acquire a few of his translated novels which I didn’t have, although for the time being I am reading the trilogy Your Face Tomorrow, which was already on my shelves but which I had never quite started properly. I have already read and loved Lolly Willowes, and I borrowed Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin in the original French from my university library. I bought the collection of sci-fi-tinged stories Terminal Boredom after reading a couple of blog reviews, and I got two Tim Winton books after several of you started raving about him on Twitter following an article featuring an interview with him. As you can see, I am so easily led down the book-buying path…

I borrowed the Elizabeth George from the library on Tuesday and thought it would be just the thing for a Covid-stricken brain, but alas, her novels have been getting longer and longer, without any justification, so I very nearly abandoned it. Fish Soup is a Charco Press book that I did not have, but we’ll be reading it for our London Reads the World Book club, and I’ve liked the other Margarita Garcia Robayo book that I read, Holiday Heart. I didn’t get to hear Emma Styles at Bloody Scotland, but I sat next to her on the train back to London and when she described her debut novel set in Australia, No Country for Girls, I knew I had to get it. Think teenage Thelma and Louise in the outback!

Last but not least, the British Library has produced a beautiful illustrated volume of Poems in Progress, showing early drafts and manuscripts of famous poems by poets ancient through to contemporary. I saw my poetry mentor Rebecca Goss tweet that she was in it, and I didn’t need a second invitation.

There is one final purchase for this month (she said optimistically), which hasn’t arrived yet: Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black. I have to admit that I have never been able to get through the Wolf Hall trilogy, although I have much admired Mantel’s earlier novels, but did not own any of them.

20 thoughts on “On Pause Again – and More Books!”

  1. Alas, no, Covid is not over yet, and it only takes one person to have it without wearing a mask and alleluia it spreads again. I caught it in a restaurant, where of course people don’t wear masks while they’re eating and we have to rely on the restaurant to have proper air filtration. Which, obviously, the restaurant we were in, did not.
    I hope you feel better soon, but take it easy, and be aware that there is new research which says you can be reinfected almost immediately. It’s not like other viruses where your immunity kicks in to prevent reinfection. I was sick (very sick), felt better, had a relapse, felt better and had another relapse, all within four weeks.
    In the meantime, I recommend light reading and novellas. Cheerful ones!
    All the best, Lisa

  2. So sorry about Covid striking you down, Marina. Coming back from holiday last Monday on a series of crowded trains, I was convinced I would catch it despite wearing a mask and felt very lucky not to have done so. I hope you feel better soon.

    My theory about ever-lengthening books is that the more successful a writer becomes, the less likely their editor is to cut their writing – but I may be wrong!

  3. Get better soon! Hardly anyone I know has dodged Covid by now. And the book I’m going to pinch from your suitcase is the Javier Marias. Not Berta Isla, Done that.

  4. So sorry you’ve got covid Marina Sofia, wishing you a speedy recovery. I hope you can enjoy your lovely book haul while you recover, but if not at least they are there waiting for you!

  5. Oh love, I am sorry about your being sick! It was good to read the post, though. I have been a mad Hilary Mantel adorer for decades. Beyond Black is compelling, although at some level experimental. She knew how to write sort of ‘perfectly’ structured novels and that wasn’t what interested her by the time she started in on Beyond Black. As a read, it scared me a little. It holds together and threatens to splinter as you reach the end. It takes guts, and a sort of F U to the commercial market to do that, but people loved it anyway. Get well soon!

  6. Great to read your take on books Marina. I couldn’t handle Thus Bad Begins just now, but it will stay in the library. I’ve read Hilary Mantel’s trilogy but must look at her earlier books too.

    Hope this finds you bloody but unbowed as the phrase goes. I expect your cheerful optimism will return. Take care. P.x

  7. I wasn’t able to get to Stirling this year but it sounds like that might be for the best if Covid was about! So sorry to hear you caught it. Hoping you soon feel much better. Enjoyed your post. J

  8. Oh, no! I’m so sorry to hear you got Covid, Marina Sofia! I hope you’re feeling better soon. Please take care of you and get lots of rest. Those books look fantastic, and when you’re feeling better, I look forward to hearing what you thought of them.

  9. Hope you’re recovering steadily if slowly, from both Covid and the arm injury. Not much fun I guess, but at least there are the books…

    The creepy Beyond Black was the first and only Mantel I’ve read up to now, unfortunately I’ve an antipathy towards most blockbusters so no Tudor trilogy for me or trials of Robespierre, however brilliant they may be.

    Glad you loved Lolly Willowes though, I hoped you would! And Terminal Boredom reminds me I still haven’t finished Le Guin’s Changing Planes, a deliberately ambiguously-titled collection of SF tales conceived during interminable waiting in airports.

  10. Sorry to hear about the Covid – I hope you have a quick recovery. That looks like a good selection of books! I’ve read Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy, which I enjoyed, and I’m looking forward to exploring her earlier books, including Beyond Black.

  11. I know we are told repeatedly that we have to learn to live with Covid but it does make it hard to enjoy normal things. I wanted so much to go to Hay festival this year. It backed out at the last moment, just not ready to sit in a room with a lot of people.

  12. Yet another setback – I’m so sorry for you Marina. I hope you recover speedily and fully, and that you enjoy your books (when you get round to reading them 🙂 ). I’m intrigued by the Brinzeanu, of course.

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